The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk - Book Review

The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk - Book Review

As soon as I picked up ‘The Thank You Economy’ I was hooked. It’s not brain science, just common sense thinking but as I turned each page I found my self nodding and agreeing with every word. I hadn’t been a Gary Vaynerchuk fan before but I was now.

At the heart of the book is the belief that doing business well online is about the customer, about offering a good customer experience by being personal and attentive. Bringing back the best retail practices that our parents and grandparents were used to.

He takes this premise and hits us over the head with it. The book is littered with examples of businesses big and small that are leading the way in exceptional customer experience both online and offline.

6 quotes and my notes from the book

“Being small is an advantage, because an individual can really shape a brand with his or her own style and personality.”

The good news is that as small businesses we have the advantage. We can’t help but be personal as we are at the coal face. We are the people who have to attract the customer, talk to them, make them feel valued and get them to come back. We know our customers by name and we chat to them online and off. Forging strong customer experiences and keeping them should be easy for us.

“Consumers have more direct, daily contact with other consumers than has ever been possible in the history of the planet. More contact means more sharing of information, gossiping, exchanging, engaging in-short, more word of mouth.”

For me this is all social media really is. When you think about it Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+ are just tools that expand our audience and our customers audience. Now if customers are happy with our product or service they aren’t just telling people in the pub, they are reaching out to people all around the world.

“It just makes sense that the better you know your consumers, the better you can tailor your marketing to them, and the more likely they are to buy from you.”

You know what? It’s hassle tailoring experiences, it takes time and energy but if you really want to be successful you need to stop thinking that one size fits all. At the very least you should know your customer or potential customers name and use it. The more you can make a customer feel valued, the more you make their experience special the more they will keep coming back.

“What’s remarkable about the little things is that the positive impact they have on a person’s performance or a customer usually far outweighs the effort or cost it takes to implement them.”

In the book Gary gives the example of the Joie De Vivre hotel chain. Staff members are encouraged to create delightful moments for the hotel’s guests. For example, they might research a special gift for a birthday or anniversary. There’s a lovely reference to a gift basket created for a very special mum that made me shed a tear or two.

“The person who says to you on Twitter, “I bleeping hate you!” is an awesome customer to have. If you can give alienated customers what they want, they will come back to you stronger than ever. Every time.”

One of the biggest fears companies have when they go online is the potential for negative feedback. Indeed when you read above about the reach of a positive recommendation you probably started to wonder about the reach of a negative one. The good news is that if you offer top notch customer care you can and will be forgiven. There’s a fab example in the book of a restauranteur who continues to bring his critics for free meals until they are satisfied. Of course some will take advantage of this but the positive buzz far outweighs this.

“Negativity launched online out of spite will be easily spotted as such if you keep your own tone polite and your message clear and consistent. Don’t bother to get into a debate even if you’re right. it’s not worth the effort, and again, you won’t win.”

And yes – don’t get into a public debate, even if you think you have won you probably got a whole lot of unwanted attention along the way.

This book is really worth a read, it won’t take you long and I’d be surprised if you don’t feel inspired once you’ve read it. You can buy it here (Amazon affiliate link).

It seems odd to be reviewing this book now as Gary’s new book ‘Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World’ has just been published. I’ll be reading that over Christmas and I might even review it at some stage too. You can get your hands on it here (affiliate link).

8 Twitter Take Aways From Dan Zarrella’s Science Of Marketing – Book Review

8 Twitter Take Aways From Dan Zarrella’s Science Of Marketing – Book Review

I’ve always found Dan Zarrella’s graphs, stats and blog posts interesting so when I saw that he’d just released a new book ‘The Science Of Marketing’ I bought it for my Kindle immediately.  It’s a great read and I find myself highlighting massive sections of it as I go.

This week I thought I’d share the 8 top Twitter tips I picked up from it. You’ll notice I have my skeptical hat on for some of it but in general it’s great advice.

 

1. Contra Competitive Timing

The data on the best time to post to get click throughs on Twitter shows that it is very often after the working day is finished or at the weekends. Dan calls this contra competitive timing.

“I follow thousands of accounts on Twitter. My Twitter stream is very active during the business day Monday through Friday. On the weekends, it moves much slower and what content does come through is often about sports and other non-work-related topics. The few times something interesting about marketing does show up on a Saturday or Sunday, it gets more of my attention because there are fewer things fighting for it.”

I am a day time, week day tweeter, maybe because I’m business to business, however it is worth experimenting with tweeting at different times, particularly if you are sharing your own content to see if you get a better result with less competition. Try tweeting at weekends or late in the evening.

2. Tweet Your Own Links Later In The Day

According to the research:

“Tweets posted later in the day – afternoon Eastern time – tended to have higher CTRs [click through rates]than tweets posted early in the morning”

Again it’s worth trying. Dan puts this behaviour down to the working day, people are more likely to procrastinate or take their foot off the pedal later in the day meaning they are more likely to look and interact with links on Twitter.

3. Put Links To Your Own Content Closer To The Beginning Of a Tweet

Dan’s data shows that tweets with links posted towards the beginning of the tweet get a higher click through rate:

“After I posted these data several people have told me that they’ve experimented with the format like ‘new post: http://linktopost.com title of the post’ and it worked for them.”

Why is this? Even Dan isn’t sure.  Could it be the novelty of seeing a tweet constructed another way or do we psychologically click a link when we don’t have to do much reading beforehand?

4. Share Your Content Often

I was on the #blogchatie Twitter chat recently and I was surprised to hear that many of the contributors only posted a link to their newest blog post once. I tweet mine at least twice a day until the next one comes out! I understand that it can be overkill if all you see the same link constantly appearing from the same account but it’s important to remember that Twitter a fast moving stream, because of this many of your followers won’t see your post if you share it just once.

“Share your content – and don’t be afraid to share it a few times – and find content from other sources that will also interest your audience and share those links”

It’s not enough just to share your own content of course, you must share other relevant links as well but you don’t have to worry so much about the CTR on those.

5. Be Original

“If you want me to share your content, you need to say something new, something I (and my followers) haven’t heard – or read before”

This is something we have all encountered on social media, a huge media event happens and businesses all try and jump on the bandwagon. Newsjacking and Real Time Marketing can be hugely effective but it is always important to contribute something new to the conversation. In doing so you become more attractive to followers and will look like an authority. For example I try and do this by looking at events from the perspective of small and medium sized businesses as this is my niche.

6. Avoid being self referential

This is an unusual one. On Facebook posts tend to perform better when you refer to your own experiences and yourself. Words like me & I do well there. On Twitter it’s the opposite. The Data proves that you are less likely to get retweets when you refer to yourself.

“If you’re on Twitter to communicate with friends you know in real life, feel free to talk about yourself all day long, but if you’re there for marketing and business reasons, stop talking about yourself.”

Rather controversially the data also shows that the highest followed accounts on Twitter rarely engage in conversation. If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know I’m a big believer in the power of conversation in social media. The problem with the data as far as I can see is that it is an analysis of the most followed accounts on Twitter. For smaller businesses and people just starting out it is almost impossible to get followers without conversing. My Facebook followers seem to agree.

7. Ask For Retweets

“Calls to action work in all forms of marketing, and social media is no different. If you want more retweets, ask for them”

This is another one that I’m uncomfortable with. I’ve seen this data a lot over the last few years so it does seem to be true that asking for a RT will get you more RT’s. However from a personal branding point of view I would rarely ask for someone to share my content. To me it always seems a little like begging. However, it does work so if you feel comfortable enough with doing it you should see results.

8. Post lots of links

“Accounts that posted 60 to 80 percent links tended to get the most retweets.”

Dan’s analysis concludes that posting lots of links (as opposed to tweets without links) will result in more retweets. Could this be because a link adds more value than 140 characters alone?
Even Dan himself says you should take the data with a pinch of salt, experiment with it and see if it works for you. I’ve been playing with putting my links closer to the start of my tweets this week and might try a bit of contra competitive timing.

I’d highly recommend reading the rest of The Science Of Marketing as it’s jam packed with tips like these covering multiple networks, blogging and promoting e-books and webinars. You can buy it here in hardcover or Kindle version. (affiliate link)

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Video Tips & Book Review - How To Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck

How To Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck - Review

When I was in school I always wanted to work in Television, there was something enchanting about that flickering screen in the corner of the room that I wanted to be part of.  I studied media studies in secondary school, in sixth form and finally went on to study Television and video production in college.  After a few years working on films and TV series I decided it wasn’t for me but my experience wasn’t wasted, I now produce videos at least once a week and help my clients create videos for themselves.  Knowing this you might think that this choice of book was a strange one but it can be very different trying to shoot video with a flipcam on a zero budget to working with a professional crew.

How To Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck by film maker Steve Stockman is a step by step guide on creating your own videos, whether they are for use online, marketing you business or just for recording family events.  It’s easy to follow and if you work through it and experiment with all the tasks it sets, you will definitely be creating better videos in the end.  It starts with easy stuff and works it’s way up to full on video production so whatever your level of experience there is something here for you to read. Here’s some of the key tips.

Would your best friend willingly watch your video?

One of the first issues that the book addresses is whether people, even your friends, will want to watch your video and it’s a good point.  I’ve lost count of the number of times that someone has sat me down in front a computer and pressed play on their YouTube video.  You know it’s a bad video when even they can’t bare to watch it for longer than 30 seconds.  If people are going to invest time watching your video you owe it to them keep them interested, or as Steve puts it:

“When you release a video, you owe it to your audience to give them a good time.  To change their world.  To open their eyes.  To make them feel.  If you do, the fact that you had no money won’t matter.  And if you don’t all the money in the world won’t make any difference at all” (Kindle location 1928)

I was relieved to read that it wasn’t just me that looked at the length of web videos before clicking play, anything over 3 minutes means I’d be unlikely to watch and it seems I’m not alone.  If we can be persuaded to watch a video most of us make the decision if we are going to continue viewing after just a few seconds.  For this reason, when we are creating our own videos, we really need to capture the imagination of our audience straight away and hold it for the duration of the video. That is exactly what this book teaches us to do.

Tell a story

Whatever the subject matter of the video you are making tell a story, that doesn’t have to be a big love story or drama but find a way of putting shots together to better tell the narrative.  As Steve puts in in the book:

“Stripped down to it’s essentials, a story has four elements: A hero, a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The beginning of the story introduces us to the hero and what situation he’s in.  the middle tells what happens to the hero next.  The end is how it turns out” (Kindle location 667)

So the key steps are, decide who your hero is.  Is it your customer, the bride, the product?  What is going to happen to that hero? Are they going to have a good experience, get married, blend an iPhone? The best and most memorable videos always follow this form, this morning I was watching this video of David Beckham and it too conforms to that structure. The hero is David Beckham, he’s going to kick the ball into the bin, he succeeds and is happy (see below).

Deciding what your video is about and what story it tells will make it more compelling straight away.  There’s some great examples on how to plan your story in the book. Putting a plan like this in place before you shoot will really help you when you go to make the video.

Keep your shots short

This is a mistake I see made all the time with online video.  There are some vloggers that are compelling enough that when they sit in front of a camera and talk you are engaged right to the end but these are rare. Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example (see below).  In the most part a static shot will loose the audiences attention pretty quickly so we need to cut.

“Cutting makes us pay attention.  Each cut to a new shot forces our brains to figure out what we’re looking at and what it means.  We’re more engaged in what we’re watching because we have to do a little work to understand it.  We’re more actively taking in information, participating in what video has to offer” (Kindle location 1656)

From time to time on my blog I conduct Skype interviews that are limited to a single split screen shot meaning that unless the content is hugely compelling no one is going to stick it out to the end.  Shooting a video face to face and adding screen shots, close ups, interviewer reaction shots will keep the viewers attention and allow you to cut out anything that isn’t moving the story forward.

In conclusion

There is a huge amount that budding videographers can learn from this book.  If you want to make videos for your business or even personally this is a quick and easy read full of practical tasks to help you improve.  Even those with more experience like myself can pick up some tips.  I know the way I think about and construct my videos is going to change as a result of it.

I read it on a Kindle and this isn’t really the ideal.  Reading the Kindle version on a tablet computer or a laptop would be more beneficial as you will be able to directly click the links to examples that Steve shares.  I’d also suggest setting aside some time to follow the practical tutorials before you start, you will get far more benefit if you are able to shoot video as you read.  Of course you can go back after reading and complete these tutorials but there is nothing like completing them as part of the reading experience.

If I’ve persuaded you click here to buy the Kindle version (amazon.com affiliate link) or here to buy the one made of paper (amazon.co.uk affiliate link).

If you want to know more about how Spiderworking.com can help you create a video for your business get in touch.

Google+ For Business by Chris Brogan

That title may seem a tad bold but it’s true.  Google+ For Business is a fantastic book on social media with examples drawn from Google+.  Sometimes we get too carried away with the tools and forget that social networks essentially all work the same way.  Some networks are better suited for particular audiences or target markets but how we approach them should be pretty much the same.

Having said all that since I’ve read this book I’ve been thinking of new ways of using G+, I’ve been more active, more creative and I’m beginning to love the place.  Chris wrote this book back in the early days of the network so he doesn’t delve too far into business pages.  From a personal and social point of view it’s much easier to use profiles than pages but that doesn’t exclude you from doing business there.  You can meet people as easily as you do on Twitter and you can build relationships with prospective clients the same way you might over time at networking meetings. So like most social networks Google+ works because it’s about building relationships, sharing useful and relevent information, letting your personality in and being real.

Back to the book.  It’s an easy read, it’s the first business book I’ve read on my Kindle and this was the perfect format for it.  I could pick it up whilst on a tram or during lunch.  It’s packed with case studies and what becomes clear is that people are approaching this relatively new network with fresh eyes.  They are finding new ways to do things, new content to share. I love the story of Jaqueline Carly, a fitness instructor who posts photos of herself pre and post workout everyday.  It’s this sort of simple but effective marketing that keeps Google+ interesting.  He also interviews some of those social media superheros including Scott Monty from Ford and Darren Rowse from ProBlogger.  He looks at how Michael Dell (from Dell) uses the network, he looks at the different ways people are approaching it and creates some scenarios of his own that small businesses would be wise to look at.

Then there is the bit that is really about Google+, although he doesn’t delve too deeply into the technical stuff he does share tips on how to make your profile more effective and how to manage circles.  Although Google+ has seen a redesign since this was written the tips are just as relevant, it’s a great beginners guide but also useful as a refresher if you’ve been there for a while.

Should you give Google+ a try?  Of course! Should you read this book?  Absolutely!

Buy the paperback on Amazon here. Or the Kindle version here.

I’ve been reading Brian Solis’s blog for a long time.  It’s always full of great analytical information that challenges your way of thinking and presents what seem like common sense ways of approaching marketing in the social media age.  It was for this reason that I was keen to pick up a copy of his latest book ‘The End Of Business As Usual’ and I wasn’t disappointed.

I’m a big believer that whatever applies to big business can be translated to the way smaller businesses work and this book is full mind changing ideas that can be applied to us all.  It can be quite a heavy read in places but if you persist there are huge takeaways.

Social media marketers will tell you that you need to know and understand your customers and present them with what they want.  This seems like common sense but it’s often harder to do than it sounds.  Brian shows us how to segment our audience so that we can really understand them, he talks about connected consumers, those of us who rely on technology and social tools to make our purchasing decisions, it is clear that these people will be the most important consumers for businesses in the future.  Most connected consumers are ‘Millenials’, also known as generation Y, these are people born between the mid 70’s and the late 90’s.

He takes a look at the way technology has changed the way we communicate. We must have all been at a table full of people who instead of communicating with each other are conversing online via smart phones or tablets, this is becoming a part of everyday life.  As marketers instead of fighting this we need to understand and even embrace it.

The real message of the book is that if businesses are going to survive as the Millennials grow up we will need to adapt, we will need to look at the new tools that allow us to communicate with our customers and craft our marketing to serve these consumers.  The book is packed with inspirational case studies demonstrating how companies are already adapting, already using tools and evolving with the connected consumers.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, it took me a while to get through it but with each chapter I found there was something I could learn from and bring into my own marketing.  It appealed to my inner nerd but I think you’d have to be a nerd or deeply interested in the psychology of marketing and social media to get into the book.  It’s not an easy read and I found myself hiding away in my bedroom so as not to be distracted whilst delving in, maybe this is a sign of the short attention span common in the connected consumer!

Here’s my key takeaways from ‘The End Of Business As Usual’

1. Segment your customers, accept they might not all consume information the same way.  Some will use social tools, some email, some you will need to make personal contact with via phone or face to face meetings.

2. Learn from your consumers, adapt and grow with them, find out what they need from you and use this to create valuable customer experiences.

3. Reward influencers and amplifiers as they will help carry your message further.  Craft shareable experiences or social objects that will assist them.

4. Be willing to pull your entire business apart in order to better serve your customers, in the future the power of the customer is going to be huge, we need to adapt and change now in order to survive.

Have you read this book?  What was your top takeaway?

I’m not a big one for reading business books, it’s true I have shelves full of the things, mostly unread, mostly never opened.  I read all that stuff  online instead.  I am on the other hand a big fan of Mari Smith, the ‘Facebook Queen’.  I enjoy reading her blog and watching her videos and always find them full of useful information and tips so it was with some excitement that I pre-ordered my copy of her second book ‘The New Relationship Marketing‘.

Aimed at either social media newbies or those struggling to get it to work it contains a step by step solution on how to get results.  I read this with both some relief and disappointment.  Relief because even a social media practitioner like myself sometimes has a niggling feeling we could be doing something wrong.  Disappointment because the system I work by is very similar to hers and I thought I’d created it myself!

It may be aimed at newbies but it’s crammed with tips and I even found a few that I can learn from.  For example instead of RT’ing like this:

RT @Spiderworking I haven’t had a chance to play with the new Google analytics yet, have you? Here’s some cool stuff ow.ly/7KO1n

This works far better as it gets straight into the meat of the Tweet:

I haven’t had a chance to play with the new Google analytics yet, have you? Here’s some cool stuff ow.ly/7KO1n via @spiderworking

I’m trialing this new style at the moment.

The only problem I have with the book is that like many American books written by coaches (apologies to Mari I know you’re Socts Canadian and not a coach), it seems to spend a big chunk of time telling the reader how to be Mari Smith.  As much as I admire her work there can only be one Mari Smith, not all of us can be or would want to be on the same level as her.  There can be no ‘How To’ guide to being Mari Smith as we all have different goals and measures of success, we dont’ all have the same motivations, brain or drive as her.  I understand that she is showing us the process including real life examples of how she got to where she is in life but I would have been more comfortable if the entire book had been devoted to social media systems and tips.  The key term ‘Relationship Marketing’ can be applied to people in all walks of life using social media, only a small segment of the readership have aspirations or the skills to become another Mari Smith.

Putting this concern aside this is a great read, I love the companion website full of downloads and extra information and I’d recommend delving into it if you are struggling to ‘get’ social media.  It will save you time and help you boost the time you do have.

Have you read the book?  I’d love to hear your opinions too.